Creating content is nothing to shout about. Everyone can do it, and everyone is doing it. The real challenge is creating your marketing strategy and content that actually engages people and translates into genuine results.
It would be a cliche to start this article with the famous “content is king” quote, but it’s still just as relevant almost 25 years after it was first written.
Content is the primary way of engaging people online, whether you’re using traditional methods or trying to excite the social media generation. However, every day thousands of pieces of new content are posted online that fail to achieve tangible results.
To help you stand out, this article will look to inspire you to create more engaging content, which doesn’t just look good on a Facebook feed, but also in your end of month report.
What is ‘engaging’ content?
Engaging content doesn’t just entertain an audience, it encourages them to take action.
That action can be anything from signing up to an email newsletter to making an online purchase.
The most familiar type of engagement many of us take part in every day online is via social media. We like posts, share articles and favourite inspiring content. These are also tangible results you can point to when assessing how engaging your content is.
The lines get blurred at exactly where content leads to a specific action being taken, so engagement is usually measured through some key performance indicators (KPIs). Some of the most common KPIs include:
- Unique visitors
- Dwell time
- Conversion rate
Have a strong, stable base to build on
Great content can stand alone, but it’s even better when it has a strong, stable base supporting it. Presentation matters. A brilliant blog or visceral video will only do so well if the surrounding elements don’t match.
A great website is a must. If you’re sending people to your blog pages or trying to convince them to sign up for more content straight to their inbox, the thing carrying that message needs to be equally impressive.
If you’re using a template store builder, use one that has its own built-in blog function for symmetry across the entire website experience. If that’s not possible and you’re using a platform that doesn’t have it’s own blog function, try and select one that integrates with a mainstream blog platform, such as how Big Cartel does with WordPress (read this Big Cartel review for more details).
The bottom line is that your content needs to look professional, and that means following basic web principles. Every blogger should be familiar with writing for the web principles, which can make your content instantly more readable and engaging, putting it in the position to churn out tangible results.
Likewise, consider how your content can reach a wider audience base and hook them for longer. For example, are you putting captions on your videos? If not, how are people supposed to enjoy your content when they’re scrolling their social feeds on the bus?
Finally, consider how your content looks on social media. You may not be posting directly to Facebook or Twitter, but content attributed to a page that feels at odds with the content itself will turn people off and fail to encourage new users to interact with your brand on a long-term basis.
Take inspiration from SEO
In search engine optimization, we do keyword research to find out what people are typing into Google. That way, you know for sure that there’s a demand for the content before you invest resources in producing it. Why not apply the same principle to social media?If you know that there are 10,000 people per month searching for ‘baking recipes’ in your country (as a random example), you can be confident that a post related to baking recipes has a big potential audience on social media. You can use SEO tools like Ahrefs, or a cheaper alternative like Mangools (you can compare them here) to get data on search volumes and competition. They’ll also help you to come up with additional ideas, and analyze what’s working well for your competitors — so it’s no problem if you don’t have many ideas to begin with. The downside of this strategy is that, if there’s a high existing search engine demand, there’s probably lots of existing content on that topic out there. That means you may need to find a way to go the extra mile and add something new & fresh.
Do something original
It’s hard to be original in 2021.
It’s been said there are no new ideas, only re-hashes of old ideas. That might be true, but it doesn’t mean you can’t engage an audience by adding a little touch of originality to your content.
After all, great content often thrives on its originality. There is so much competition out there than sometimes just looking at something from a different point of view is all you need.
Sure, you can still touch on the same subjects as other blogs and businesses, but why not try adding your own spin? Invent a unique visual style. Answer questions in a different way. You don’t need to be 100% original, just different from your competitors and contemporaries.
Adding your own voice (more on that later) to a blog post or any other type of content can dramatically change how it feels to an audience. Think about how many posts there are out there about managing a social media page. Almost everything that can be said has been said. So rather than fretting about new ideas, why not try and say it differently?
A great way to make your content feel original and keep people engaged for longer is to avoid ‘one-and-done’ style campaigns. Create content that consumes your audience, sending them on treasure hunts or encouraging conversation. By getting them to interact with your content on multiple levels, you make it easier for your brand to achieve tangible results such as sales and subscriptions.
Experiment with new formats
Creatives should never be afraid to try new things.
We live in a world very concerned with brand reputations and not upsetting your core audience online. However, more often than not, a brand can benefit from taking risks with their content.
There are so many mediums out there than to not experiment with them at least once is blocking yourself off from a huge audience base. Why shouldn’t a blogger try and break into the video market and win some of it’s huge audience base?
When most people think about content, they think about the written word. Blogs may not be as trendy as they were in 2005, but there’s still a huge audience for them. If you’re not writing, it’s a fantastic way to quickly grab people and craft a story around your business. This is perhaps the easiest way to direct your traffic to specific pages, should you be looking to translate that engagement into tangible sales.
Audio is emerging as a hugely popular medium online. Podcasts, in particular, are perhaps one of the best ways to engage online users and turn them into committed audience members. The average American podcast listener is consuming up to seven different shows a week, highlighting the possibility for penetration from a high quality product that offers something original.
Everyone is well aware of the power of video. We’re watching more videos than ever, whether we’re going to YouTube or scrolling through Instagram Reels. You don’t need to get your whole office learning TikTok dances or becoming Premiere Pro experts though. Smartphones and editing apps (this KineMaster review will show you what I’m talking about) have made it easier than ever to dip your toe in the video content water.
Finally, there are lots of simple ways you can put those photography and visual arts skills to good use to engage audiences. Infographics are one of the best ways of condensing information into a neat, visually appealing package and helping audiences to understand the benefits of your products and services.
Make it personal
What is it that we find engaging about good content? For many people, it’s the human element. That’s why your selfies get more likes than yet another sunset pic.
People want to see, hear and learn about other humans. So, make your content more engaging by giving it a very personal and human touch.
You don’t need to start spilling company secrets or invade your colleague’s privacy, but by bringing some behind the scenes elements into your content and providing a voice that is unique to you and your company you can excite and entertain your online audience in a totally unique way.
Holding a bake sale? Take some snaps and put them up on your Instagram. Renovating the office? Sounds like a brilliant opportunity to host a Facebook Live stream. Content can so often feel stifled, so bringing in your own personality through humour and the general buzz of your office environment can give even the most unremarkable idea.
How does this achieve tangible results though? By giving your customers someone to relate the business to. A face behind the brand and the polished logo is always important, helping to give your customers an impression of who produces their favourite products and is there should they have a problem.
Become a social media expert
As we’ve touched upon throughout this article, one of the main platforms for building engagement with your business or personal brand is social media.
Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram or Tik Tok, engagement on these platforms is crucial for promoting products and telling your story through brilliant content.
However, before you can start trying to engage through content on these platforms, it’s vitally important you become an expert in them. It’s not enough to think you understand a platform, you have to know it inside out and be sure of the user you’re trying to target.
All social media is different. Facebook has an increasingly older audience who use it to communicate with friends and family while getting news updates. Twitter is much more fast-moving, with less of an emphasis on long-form content. Instagram thrives on visuals, with new features such as Stories and Reels moving the platform towards video content.
It’s imperative you have a good idea of what your target audience wants from these platforms. First, research which platforms your target audience uses and try and gather what they gain from it. Are they looking for a community to interact with or is their usage limited to a short scrolling session once a week? This usage will help you to design your content to be most appealing to your target audience.
Learn what the platforms themselves promote. Facebook famously ‘pivoted to video’ a few years ago, and visual content is known to be promoted higher in people’s feed and lead to improved engagement. Likewise, the little tricks you can use on the platform (such as bio links on Instagram) should become second nature in your content strategy.
It’s not easy to turn your content into tangible results. It takes time, effort and bundles of creativity to stand out in what is the most condensed online marketplace ever.
However, these tips will help guide your content research and creation processes. Get deep into the psyche of your audience and don’t be afraid to try new things, even if that means putting your face on camera.